Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (545, 563)

Martin Browne


545. Deputy Martin Browne asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the number of survivors of mother and baby homes he has contacted since the publication of the Final Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes; his plans to make contact with those who have yet to be contacted; if he plans to meet with a group (details supplied) regarding further scans at Sean Ross Abbey, in County Tipperary, and other issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6755/21]

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Seán Sherlock


563. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if he plans to meet with a representative group (details supplied). [7228/21]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 545 and 563 together.

In responding to the Final Report of the Commission of Investigation, the Government has approved the development of a Strategic Action Plan encompassing a suite of 22 specific measures. These measures, which take account of the Commission's recommendations, are intended to respond to the priority needs and concerns of former residents and their families. This is a hugely important process for all connected to these institutions and I will be working with colleagues and survivors to advance these measures as a priority.

Most importantly, we will take a survivor-centred approach, characterised by consistent engagement with former residents and their representative groups, including the survivor diaspora. Notably, my Department has been contacted by several hundred survivors since the report was published, many of whom have never been in contact with us before. It is clear, therefore, that new demands emerge in seeking to facilitate dialogue and consultation on the Commission’s Final Report and the State’s Action Plan.

Structured engagement and consultation of this nature requires specific structures, systems and resources to ensure it is inclusive and effective. Innovative methods are required to achieve this objective, especially given the continuing challenges presented by the restrictions necessary to reduce the public health risks associated with Covid-19.

As a first step, I have commenced this consultation with members of the Collaborative Forum as I believe that a new and enhanced model of engagement, which builds upon the strengths of the existing process, can increase opportunities for direct engagement with the large numbers of stakeholders and their representative groups. It is my intention to accommodate both the representative groups mentioned and other relevant stakeholders in this engagement. I want to commence this dialogue as quickly as possible and I will announce further details in due course.